DEN Community Member of the Week: Tim Childers

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.30.58 PMTim is an Assistant Principal at L&N STEM Academy at Knox County Schools in Tennessee. He has been using Discovery Education for many years. He shared “I have used Discovery Streaming since the United Streaming days. It is the single most important decision I’ve ever made in my teaching career. It connected me to the DEN. And that has made all the difference for me as an educator.”

How do you start your day?
I wake up around 4:30 or 5:00. Before I get out of bed I reach for my laptop and go through my Gmail account, my school email account, Twitter, Feedly, and finally Facebook. Along the way I find articles that interest me and schedule them for posting to social media using BufferApp. Then it’s time for coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Why did you become a teacher?
I waited until 42 to pursue this dream. I always knew teaching was where I should be. It just took me a really long time to get here. I not only have a passion for helping kids learn to think critically about all subjects (and life in general), but I have a desire to see teachers thrive as professionals. Education is one of the highest callings as a profession that there is. And teachers are some of the greatest role models on the planet. Who wouldn’t want to do this?

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.42.50 PMWhat is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
I do a workshop on teaching a lesson with just a single image. In that, I use Discovery Streaming images almost exclusively. Finding a single image to tie to instruction can form a bond inside kids’ heads that help them more easily remember what it was you were teaching them. It creates a brain connection that bullet points will never achieve.

How are you involved in education aside from your role as educator?
I blog at (although not as much these days as I would like). I am on the state board for the Professional Educators of Tennessee, an independent teacher association. I also speak at conferences around the SouthEast such as the Midlands Tech Summit, FETC, and as far north as ICE and MACUL. I am also a graduate of the Innovative Leadership Institute.

What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?
Failure is the greatest learning tool there is. Being brave enough to fail in front of your students gives them the courage to fail themselves. Start small. Add a 2 to 3 minute video clip for discussion. Its ok if the audio doesn’t work right at first. The “hidden curriculum” you are giving your kids about taking risks, learning from failure, and conquering fear is just as important as that standard you put in your lesson plan.

What advice do you have for first year teachers?
First, find a mentor. Find someone who clicks with you. Someone who can guide you through parent/teacher meetings, putting grades in the grade book, what formative assessment really looks like, and how to meaningfully judge student mastery. Second, breathe. Year two is going to be so much better!

What sites do you visit to assist in your teaching practice?Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.33.03 PM I visit a LOT. I love the SOS Strategies series in particular. Great stuff there. I also go to places like Edutopia and I’m in high school now, but I still keep up with middle school practice every day.

What sites do you visit for your own (non education) interests?
I wake up every morning with over 200 articles in my Feedly account, and I don’t leave for work until that number is zero. They cover anything from education to food to photography to food photography. I read Seth Godin’s blog every single day. I spend way too much time on Facebook and Twitter. And every once in a while, like ice cream, I allow myself the pleasure of some time on

What other organizations/groups are you a part of?
To be honest, this is it. I’ve devoted myself to the DEN. I have a dream of being Google Certified or an Apple Distinguished Educator, but they are still on the backburner.

What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?
I have two. Definitely my first trip to Silver Spring at the very beginning of the DEN. I had no idea what I was doing or why I was there. I was so overwhelmed by all the talent and knowledge in the room. Alan November was a speaker we had. I was in awe. And then working with our team to make a video out the Theodore Roosevelt National Park until 2 AM.
After that is a little weekend conference at my middle school in Cleveland, TN. I called up Lance and told him my principal wanted the conference to be technology focused and asked for help. Next thing I knew I had 6 or 7 people from the DEN driving in from 3 states to teach classes and Lance hopped a plane to be our keynote speaker. It was simply an amazing time.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.44.20 PMWhen you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?
Probably out to eat, catching up on Orphan Black, or out taking pictures somewhere in the United States.

What is your favorite kind of donut?
Blueberry Cake


How can others connect with you?,, @tchilders

Connect with Tim and share your favorite ways to use digital media in the classroom!


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  1. Clare Devine said:

    Tim, Congratulations! I think of you as the daily DE Community Leader. You are able to help students see the wonder of education and life and wonder as infinite! Great job!

  2. peter panico said:

    Congratulations. I loved your story. I also learned a few things (bufferapp, feedly). So glad to spend time with you in TENN.

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